MEET NICOLE EACUELLO
VN: Growing up you saw yourself as a lawyer and brought that dream to reality when you attended Law school. However, you realized it wasn’t the path that you were passionate about and made the difficult decision to drop out. What advice would you give to others who are seemingly on the right path but don’t feel passionate or confident in their decisions?
NE: I am so happy you asked about this because it was one of the most challenging and pivotal times of my life. There was something so surreal about achieving a goal I worked so hard towards, only to realize it wasn’t going to fulfill me. Before telling anyone I was thinking about dropping out, I prayed over the decision A LOT. I was only 22, and it was a very difficult, dark, and confusing time for me. I felt ashamed for investing so much with so little to show. I felt alone, like no one understood what I was enduring. Most of all, I felt disappointed in myself. I have always prided myself on my resilience and had never quit anything in my life. After much reflection, I knew I had to just go for it. I wasn’t happy, and staying in this situation out of embarrassment and fear wouldn’t get me anywhere. When I shared my plans with my family I was immediately supported and shown so much love.
That season of my life taught me the most rewarding lesson I have ever learned – the only person who knows what’s best for you is YOU. The only constant in life is change, so never be afraid of new beginnings. The day I dropped my resignation letter in the mailbox I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders, and the excitement and hope of possibility. When I think about it I get chills. Life has been so incredibly beautiful and wonderful since I changed paths. I promised myself shortly after that I would never stay stagnant and always welcome change and challenge into my life.
My biggest pieces of advice to someone who is looking to explore new opportunities:
- Have a plan – Know what it is you want to embark on and be able to identify what excites you
about it. Question it as well. How will it better your life? Will you feel fulfilled? What is it you want to accomplish (in both the short and long term)? Understanding your needs and desires will help you make the best decision for yourself.
- Believe in yourself – You can do anything you set your mind to! You may have to be your own biggest cheerleader at times. If you are confident in yourself it will get you far.
- Rely on your mentors for advice – We are all human, sometimes we need external validation. Share your thoughts with someone you trust. Keep an open mind for feedback and growth opportunities. We’re stronger together than apart!
Finally, life is just too short to do something that doesn’t bring you joy every day. Take (educated) risks, try new things, be spontaneous. I promise you amazing things will happen once you decide to take a chance.
VN: One of the many things I admire about you is your confidence and strength. I remember watching you on stage going for your dream in the Miss USA organization and working extremely hard for months leading up to the big day. What did you learn from pageantry and what advice would you give other women thinking about going after their dreams?
NE: My advice to anyone thinking about going after their dreams is to do your research, prepare, and GO FOR IT! My pageantry journey was a long one, spanning over ten years, and inspired by my grandmother.
One of my earliest memories of her is how much she loved beauty pageants. We used to get so excited to watch Miss USA + Miss Universe together each year, and she always made sure I had the perfect crown to wear as I watched the beautiful women on those stages. To me, they were superheroes, and the kind of women I would always aspire to become.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life (something most people don’t know about me) and for a while it was really challenging for me to verbalize. I think it’s because I didn’t fully understand why I would sometimes feel the way I did, but regardless, my grandmother always knew what to say to make me feel better. She taught me to have faith in myself and go after all of my dreams, which leads me to the next part of this story.
Despite my struggles and the occasional doubts in myself, the day I turned 18 I registered for my first state pageant to attempt to qualify for Miss USA. The fact that I even found the courage to step on stage in the first place is still crazy to me, but I believed in myself and I believed in my dream. Even though I was scared, I always knew in my heart that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
I feel like we can all reflect back on a few defining moments in our lives and recognize ones that have shaped who we are. That first pageant in 2010 is definitely one of mine. The ten years I competed gave me a completely different outlook on life and confidence in myself with who I have become. I owe a lot of this to the valuable lessons I gained from being a contestant in the Miss Universe Organization system. Just like my grandmother, I’ve learned how to be fearless, resilient, strong, determined, supportive, encouraging, compassionate, and adventurous – qualities I will carry with me forever.
VN: Currently, your life revolves around an industry that is primarily male dominated: the wine and liquor industry. As a young woman whose a Partner and Director of Digital Marketing for a wine & spirits shop, how would you describe your experience with getting your foot in the door and making a reputable name for yourself?
NE: I have been incredibly blessed to have had strong female mentors guide me through industries that are primarily male dominated. My first professional experience post-college (right after law school) was as a Buyer at a large Boston based corporation. With little experience, and at a young age, I was expected to lead meetings with male CEOs who were quite senior to me. My manager at the time, who is now one of my best friends, always made sure I had the tools and resources available to achieve success. Whether that was reviewing my presentation deck, listening to a practice pitch of a negotiation, or coaching me on how to ask for a raise – she showed me that women do empower women. I am forever grateful for her and the confidence she instilled in me when I had none.
When I decided to change paths yet again and enter the wine industry, I did not have a female mentor available to me. Fortunately the foundations had been laid, and I was able to leverage the skills I had previously developed to confidently work in a male dominated field. I was proud of what I could bring to the table, and knew how to work effectively with both internal and external peers. Slowly but surely, I found more women in the industry. Women who to this day know far more than me about wine, and inspire me constantly. It’s imperative to lean on those around you to learn – check your ego at the door and keep an open mind.
When it comes to making a reputable name for oneself, my biggest piece of advice is to lead with integrity. Always do what you say you will do. This will get you far in life not just professionally, but personally as well.
VN: Tell us about your blogs, Next By Nicole & Not a Somm Girl. What inspired you to create these and where do you hope these lead to?
NE: As cliche as it sounds, I love people so much. I’m a total extrovert and crave interaction and connection at all times. Inspiring and empowering those around me is one of my biggest aspirations in life, and the thought process behind the creation of my two platforms.
For Next by Nicole, it all started with a dress. A beautiful, white, window lace midi dress in INTERMIX’s display on Newbury Street. The moment I saw it I fell in love, but sadly, without even looking at the tags, knew it was an extravagant splurge that my bank account at 22-years-old would not support. I was right, it had a $900 price tag. I figured I would at least try it on and get it out of my system. My theory was wrong – trying it on just made me want it even more. I left empty handed, but I wasn’t going to be defeated. I went home and sat on my computer searching every possible term I could think of the describe the dress.
I eventually found a lookalike on Nordstrom Rack for $45. This is the little victory inspired me to start Next by Nicole. I’m “that girl” who will always tell you where my outfit is from. Next by Nicole is about girl power + collaboration above all else. It is a space for women of all shapes and sizes to find pieces that make them feel empowered, confident, and ready to take on the world.
Not A Somm Girl stemmed from a similar theme – confidence. The blog is a spot for fun and non- intimidating wine and cocktail education. While I may not be a Sommelier (with no plans to become one) I’ve acquired quite a bit of knowledge in the field through running my family’s wine businesses. Something I’ve noticed is that there can be a lack of a relatable voice in this industry. Wine education can come across as stuffy, elitist, and dare I say it, boring.
The truth is, that’s the polar opposite of how it’s supposed to be. This is an incredible topic that has roots in celebration, love, and family. It’s meant for everyone to enjoy and explore. I hope my findings can empower people to feel comfortable ordering wine at business dinners, picking out a bottle for girls’ night in, or helping them craft the perfect cocktail.
VN: Nicole, you are one of the most selfless individuals I’ve met. You spend so much of your (limited) free time volunteering, giving back, and finding ways to be a better person overall. What’re some organizations you love working with? On a daily basis, what are some conscious choices you make to be a better person?
NE: Thank you so much! That means so much to me. My parents are extremely philanthropic and always encouraged my sister and I to give back to our neighbors and respective communities. Their love for the world around them has been truly inspirational to me. A non-profit that is close to my heart is the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Their mission is to help girls realize their full potential by providing them with positive and empowering mentoring relationships with women. I have been a community based mentor with the organization for eight years – with my most recent match going on six years. Working one on one with my little sister and watching her grow has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.
While volunteering is one of my biggest passions, I am a firm believer that one cannot pour from an empty cup. My ability to give back starts at home with self-care. Some conscious choices I make on a daily basis to be a better person include practicing gratitude and being present. When it comes to gratitude, I wake up each morning, pray, and reflect on a few things I am thankful for. Sometimes I’ll also write down a few thoughts, or sit in meditation. This helps set the tone for my overall day, and allows me to stay centered, focused, and of course, present. I try to not only be mindful of my own life, but of the lives of those close to me.
For example, if I know a friend or family member has something important happening that day, I’ll make a note in my calendar to reach out and offer support. It’s important to remember that everyone you meet is on their own journey. If they choose include you in that process, being able to cheer them on or hold space when needed is a profound experience.
VN: Between your passion for fashion and glam, and your rooted position in a male dominated industry, how do you balance two lives that could easily collide?
NE: A quality I admire in others and strive to embody daily is authenticity. There is nothing more beautiful than when someone shows you who he or she really is. One of my biggest goals is to have all aspects of my life collide – making my presence known and leaving a touch of myself whenever I go. That being said, setting boundaries are crucial to success. For example, I elect to keep my two blogs separate, while still incorporating aspects of each into both platforms. The reason I do this is I know my audience for wine/ cocktail making is different than the fashion/glam audience. The content I create on Not A Somm Girl is educational, yet my personal style can always be seen.
I don’t change the way I dress, or the way I speak to appease a certain audience. When viewing my styling articles on Next by Nicole, you may find I occasionally sprinkle in a wine recommendation or cocktail recipe. As women in this generation, we have the unique and exciting ability to create our own paths. Be yourself! Shine in every way and never dull yourself down because you feel you need to. There is no box to try and fit in to, your path is exclusively yours.
All images provided to H.E.R Page/BostonMan courtesy of Nicole Eaucello
Victoria Nasuti created H.E.R Page – BostonMan to help tell the inspiring stories of women around Boston successfully having careers and passions at the highest levels! A published model and real estate professional herself, Victoria knows firsthand the challenges of performing your best in both a career and passion. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for the H.E.R Page spotlight, please send Victoria a message here.